Blanks shows his ignorance with firing

By By Josh Taylor/sports writer
December 14, 2003
Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blanks really showed his class this week when he announced that he would be firing head coach Dan Reeves at the end of the season. I suppose Blanks didn't like his team's 3-10 record.
Being the standup guy that he is, Reeves told Blanks to shove it where the sun doesn't shine and left Wednesday.
But Josh, you ask, wouldn't you fire your head coach if your team was 3-10? Well, there are some extenuating circumstances in this situation. Namely, one quarterback named Michael Vick.
The Falcons pinned the future of their franchise on Vick when they drafted him number one in 2001. This is usually a bad idea when a team tries to win with one player (New Orleans and Ricky Williams comes tomind), but in Vick's case it was a pretty smart move. Vick will one day be considered the best player in the history of the NFL. He's the Michael Jordan of football. He actually is capable of carrying the Falcons almost by himself.
This was supposed to be Vick's breakout season. He was going to take the Dirty Birds to a Super Bowl win. That all ended Aug. 16th in week two of the preseason when Vick went down with a fractured right fibula. The Falcons lost the game 13-10 to Baltimore, and Vick was supposed to be back in six weeks.
Six weeks would have put Vick coming back in week four of the regular season with the Falcons sitting at 1-2. Atlanta wasn't done yet. They could still get Vick back in time to fulfill their destiny.
Flash forward to week 13 of the regular season. Vick makes his first entrance back on the playing field. He didn't start, but he did get out there and play. Week 14 Vick was finally back as the Falcons' starting quarterback and Atlanta took a 20-14 overtime win over their division leader, Carolina.
So, what happened? Vick was supposed to return in week three, but did not get back to full speed until week 14. That's about three months longer than anybody thought it would take.
Now, Reeves catches the blame for not starting Vick earlier in the season. The problem here is not Reeves, but rather the fact that Blanks is too shortsighted to see the potential for serious injury if Vick had returned too soon.
Let's say that Reeves pressured Vick to come back in week seven seven though he still wasnt healthy. Let's also say that Vick ended up tearing up his leg worse and ending his career. In that situation Reeves probably would deserve to be fired. But Reeves didn't do that. He let Vick fully heal before he put the star quarterback back on the gridiron.
I applaud Dan Reeves for having the guts to stand up for his players and put their interest ahead of the almighty dollar and wins.
Blanks' karma will catch up with him. Vick will not soon forget how his owner treated his coach. And who knows, the Saints may be looking for a new head coach after this season. New Orleans should welcome Reeves
with open arms. It's not that inconceivable that Vick would later follow. That's assuming there's not a Manning behind center in New Orleans next season.
Playoff Picture
The New England Patriots have already clinched the AFC East division title and a spot in the playoffs. These guys will be tough for anyone to beat on the road to the Super Bowl.
The Indianapolis Colts are in position to clinch the AFC South. All it will take is a Colts win and a Titans loss today. They can at the very least secure a spot in the playoffs today with just a win or a Miami loss. Tennessee is still very much in the hunt for a playoff berth. A Titans win today plus a Miami and Cincinnati loss secures their spot in postseason play.
Kansas City has already clinched a trip to the playoffs. The Chiefs can also grab the AFC West title with a win today or a loss by Denver.
Philadelphia has already grabbed a playoff slot. If Dallas loses today, the Eagles clinch a first-round bye. This is pretty impressive
considering how they started their season. The Cowboys are still right in the mix also. Try to follow me on this one. A Cowboy, Vikings, and Seahawks win followed by a Green Bay loss, a San Francisco loss, a Tampa Bay loss, and a New Orleans loss will guarantee the Cowboys a trip to the playoffs. Who knows, it could happen.
Minnesota can clinch the NFC North division title today with a win and a loss by Green Bay. Carolina can also clinch the NFC South title with a win today.
In the NFC West, St. Louis has already clinched a playoff berth. A win today will give them the division title. They can also grab a first-round bye if they win and a few other teams lose.
The AFC North is the only division that is still up in the air.
So who's already looking at next season? The teams that are already mathematically eliminated from the playoffs are Arizona, Atlanta, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Jacksonville, New York Giants, Oakland, and San Diego.
See you next year guys!